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Police use Taser, chemical spray on protesters near Busch Stadium

A three-hour protest late Friday in downtown St. Louis ended in a tense confrontation between police and demonstrators.

People in the crowd of protesters said police used chemical agents on some protesters and shot one person with a Taser. Police confirmed they made at least two arrests.

The turmoil followed a night of peaceful demonstrations that took protesters from Kiener Plaza to Busch Stadium, where they chanted at police behind barricades. The protesters demanded that police stop using deadly force on black people.

During the St. Louis Cardinals game with the Milwaukee Brewers, some protesters unfurled a banner inside the stadium that read “Stop Killing Us.”

For much of the night, the crowd was festive. But before 10 p.m., as protesters marched down Broadway to Kiener Plaza, officers ordered the protesters to disperse about a block from the ballpark, police said.

Among those police appeared to have arrested was the Rev. Darryl Gray, who has been active in protests for the past two weeks. Protesters said police sprayed him with a chemical agent.

Protester and activist Calvin “Cap” Kennedy was shot with a Taser near Busch Stadium on Friday night.  Sept. 29, 2017
Credit Lawrence Bryant | St. Louis American
Protester and activist Calvin “Cap” Kennedy was shot with a Taser near Busch Stadium on Friday night.

Police also appeared to arrest activist Calvin “Cap” Kennedy, who was shot with a Taser and also sprayed with a chemical agent.

“They tased him for nothing, as he was trying to catch up with us,” one woman shouted.

Protesters demanded to know why officers, who by then were wearing riot gear, had used the Taser and chemical spray. At that point, some in the crowd also said they were also hit chemical spray.

LaShell Eikerenkoetter, a black woman who helped lead the demonstration, was particularly angry at black police officers who stood with their white colleagues against the protesters.

"You are so ready to hurt me,” Eikerenkoetter yelled through a megaphone. “I would never hurt you."

The standoff came an hour or so after activist Cori Bush took to the megaphone to tell police gathered outside the stadium why protesters keep bringing their message there. She said many in the community do not trust police — and that won’t change until extrajudicial violence against black people ends.

“We know you’re tired of us coming to Ballpark Village. We know you’re tired of the protesters. You’re tired of us,” Bush said. “We’re tired of the police killing black folks. We’re tired of the police killing brown folks and trans folks. We ‘re tired of you killing people that look like us.”

As people in the crowd headed to the St. Louis City Justice Center following the arrests, some people who had attended the game shouted at the protesters.

Friday night’s protest marked two weeks since St. Louis Judge Timothy Wilson found former St. Louis officer Jason Stockley, who is white, not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 death of Anthony Lamar Smith, a black man. Since the verdict, protest organizers have led demonstrations nearly every day, and vow to continue.

Ryan Delaney and Carolina Hidalgo contributed to this report. 

Follow David on Twitter: @dpcazares

David is the health, science and arts & culture editor for St. Louis Public Radio.